Fourth Report in a Four Part Presidential Election Series:
The DREAM Act: Post-election dream, or reality?
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act has been proposed to Congress off and on in varying forms since 2001. In its most recent form (reintroduced circa 2010), the DREAM Act would “create a path to legal immigration status for undocumented immigrants born outside the United States who were brought here illegally as children.” Many times, the individuals are unaware that they entered the country illegally until they attempt to apply for college.
Though it is currently still pending in Congress, the outcome of the presidential election could help decide whether the legislation becomes reality or remains a dream. So, if passed, what would it do?
It would not provide automatic green cards. Those who want to apply for legal status must meet certain criteria. They must have arrived in the U.S. before age 16; lived in the country for at least five years; not committed any major crimes; graduated from high school (or an equivalent); and completed at least two years of college or military service. It would not provide registered students access to federal grants, like the Pell Grant, nor would it require states to offer in-state tuition to such students (though it would give states the option to offer it).
A study released in October by the Center for American Progress and the Partnership for a New American Economy forecasted that, if passed, the legislation could provide a boost to the economy because it would make it easier for eligible “Dreamers” to enroll in, pay for, and graduate from college.
The DREAM Act could help people like Jessica Colotl. While majoring in political science at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University in 2010, Colotl was pulled over for a routine traffic stop, arrested, and sent to a federal detention facility to await deportation. An outcry from friends and family prompted immigration authorities to grant Colotl a deportation deferment so she could finish her degree.
President Obama considers his inaction regarding immigration reform to be his “biggest failure.” But despite the hold up in Congress, Obama kinda-sorta passed a version of it, a deferred action policy, by himself in June, citing “prosecutorial discretion.”
The policy change, which went into effect on August 15, allows undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 to apply for two-year deferrals of deportation and an employment authorization card. It does not grant citizenship, however, and eligibility requirements mimic the DREAM Act’s. Critics complained about the policy move, calling it “backdoor amnesty,” while Obama stressed that it is “not a permanent fix” but rather “a temporary stopgap measure.”
So, what if Romney is elected?
Romney’s views on the DREAM Act seem to have changed since the beginning of his campaign. During the Republican primary, for example, he said he would veto it. The caveat, however, is that Romney did support one portion of the DREAM Act which would allow young illegal immigrants to achieve legality by serving in the military.
When first confronted with Obama’s deferred action policy in June, Governor Romney told reporters that he agreed with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who had proposed a DREAM Act alternative intended to be more palatable to the GOP. But Rubio shelved his plan soon after President Obama’s executive action, saying that the policy change “killed his own legislative effort.”
When asked whether he would renew Obama’s executive policy, Romney indicated in October that young immigrants who had been granted waivers would be allowed to stay, saying, “I’m not going to take something that they’ve purchased.” He also called Obama’s move a “temporary fix,” stressing that, if elected president, he would seek “longer-term solutions to immigration problems.”
Fourth Report in a Four Part Presidential Election Series:
 The Library of Congress, “Bill Summary & Status: 107th Congress (2001-2002), S.1291” http://rs9.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d107:SN01291:@@@L&summ2=m& (Jun 2002)
 NAFSA, “The DREAM Act: Facts and Myths,” http://www.nafsa.org/uploadedFiles/NAFSA_Home/Resource_Library_Assets/Public_Policy/The%20DREAM%20Act%20T%20and%20M%20-%20Jan%202012(1).pdf (Jan 2012)
 USA Today, “DREAM Act would boost economy, think tank says,” http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/10/01/dream-act-immigration-economy/1598363/ (Oct 2012)
 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “The U.S. needs college students like Jessica Colotl,”
 The Huffington Post, “Obama: Immigration Reform Inaction Was ‘Biggest Failure,’” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/20/obama-immigration-reform-univision_n_1901240.html (Sep 2012)
 New York Magazine, “Obama Basically Passed The DREAM Act Himself,” http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/06/obama-basically-passed-the-dream-act-himself.html (Jun 2012)
 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Obama makes big change on immigration policy,”
 CNN.com, “For young immigrants, avoiding deportation to cost $465,” http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/03/us/immigration-deferred-deportations/index.html (Aug 2012)
 CNN.com, “Obama administration to stop deporting some young illegal immigrants,” http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/15/politics/immigration/index.html (Jun 2012)
 PolitiFact, “Mitt Romney said he would veto the DREAM Act, says David Plouffe,” http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/jun/22/david-plouffe/mitt-romney-said-he-would-veto-dream-act-says-davi/ (Jun 2012)
 Mitt Romney Press, “Mitt Romney’s Strategy For Bipartisan & Long-Term Immigration Reform”
 The Los Angeles Times, “Marco Rubio dropping election-year plan for GOP Dream Act,” http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jun/18/news/la-pn-marco-rubio-dropping-electionyear-plan-for-gop-dream-act-20120618 (Jun 2012)
 CNN.com, “Romney would allow young immigrants granted waivers to stay,” http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/02/romney-would-allow-young-immigrants-granted-waivers-to-stay/ (Oct 2012)